Is there a more appropriate place to master rowing than on a pier on the Hudson River?
You can now do that (without getting wet) at The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers, where the Manhattan mega gym just launched Row Xpo, a series of classes that pair intervals on the rowing machine with serious strength training and conditioning exercises.
The classes take place in a new water sports-themed studio at the gym, along with Surfset, the workout that simulates surfing on land. (It’s located at the far end of the track at the top of the bleachers.)
During my 60-minute Row Xpo session, we hopped on the rower for a five-minute warm-up then went straight into tough strength intervals on the floor, using heavy kettlebells and sandbells in exercises like slams, twisting lunges, and squats. Then it was back to the rowers for four rounds of 45-second speed drills (which left every one of us breathless), followed by another set of strength exercises. The final rowing interval was eight straight minutes at a tough pace, and it maxed out my endurance to the point where I really thought I couldn’t go another meter. Then, we wrapped up with some core work on the floor.
The class was fluid and fun the whole time, with a great playlist and good energy, and like most rowing sessions, you won’t leave without putting every muscle to work in a big way.
For newbies, there’s also a 30-minute class, and for rowing buffs, a 60-minute Endurance version involves more time on the rower and less strength work. I’m not sure my blistered palms could have handled that one, but that’s just me. —Lisa Elaine Held
Free for members, Pier 60, 20th St. and Hudson River Park, Chelsea, www.chelseapiers.com/sc